Aspergian Protagonists :: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Austin Nights

herocious

BACKSTORY

Last year I self-published a 166-page novel about Michael, Bridget, & Honeyed Cat.

It is autobiographical literature.

First came the handpressed version, published I think sometime in February 2011.

Then, in June or July, the book went Kindle and it wasn’t anything great.

I didn’t understand what it took to get my book noticed on Amazon.

I still don’t really.

I thought I could just leave it there and people would buy it because of the cover.

It is a nice cover.

Bridget’s lower back.

But now, less than a year later, I know it doesn’t work that way.

There are many nice covers in the Kindle Store, some even nicer than mine.

(Not really. None nicer. None)

Regardless, it takes more than a beautiful lower back to get noticed.

(Unfortunate. Wrong-headed)

I had to implement some sort of strategy if I wanted to get some.

Become proactive.

MAKE IT FREE!

So last month I gifted my book to anyone who had a Kindle.

~1,300 people downloaded it.

The onslaught of new readers bumped it up in the Amazon rankings.

~35 people paid full price.

I was happy for 2-3 weeks.

To celebrate we took a trip to New Orleans with our dog.

Then, back in Austin, a dry spell came.

No sales for days.

No sales for a week.

Two.

Three.

Weeks.

My book dropped down into the 300,000s.

I felt sad and unwanted and, for some reason, criminal.

Neurosis.

I took our dog for long walks and didn’t know when to come home.

I tickled Honeyed Cat with a peacock’s feather to make sure she felt loved.

She whispered something into my ear.

To break the slump I made my book free again this month.

Two days later it had ~3,500 new readers.

And there was a nice bump after the freebie that made it a Bargain Books Bestseller.

So far this promotion has resulted in 68 paid sales.

This figure is exact because I’m checking KDP approximately every 2-3 minutes.

I see this marketing tactic working for a little while.

It’s akin to kindling burning brightly and then dying down into an afterglow.

And eventually ashes that topple at the slightest breath.

And where will my book be at that point?

The only reason I’m still thinking about this is because I think the book can do it.

It just needs new legs to run on, revitalized legs to keep it treading.

CATALYST

While I handpress new books for Tiny TOE Press, move on to new titles, I will have to shift my energy, and I don’t want to leave my book for drowning.

Then an email came from a reader.

A girl named Ellie.

I needed something to give my book new life after already having lived, and this reader asked me the one question that set my mind walking in a new direction.

That’s all it takes.

Something insignificant.

A sound will do.

This reader asked – Ellie asked – “Do you have Asperger’s?”

I wasn’t expecting this question.

Ellie said,

“Perhaps you understand why I think this? I found the MD character to have that sort of quirky, different-slant kind of perception, and when you mentioned the math, and then quoted pi, well, that’s when the lights went off.”

I responded to Ellie,

“I’ve never been diagnosed.”

Ellie felt bad for asking, but I wrote back saying not to worry about it.

I said,

“Maybe I do. I don’t know. But MD wasn’t written as an Aspie. If that’s what you took him to be, maybe he is?”

Later that night, sipping on jalapeño vodka and listening to FM radio, I knew what I needed to do, or at least try to do.

A PLAN IS HATCHED

Aspies are becoming a presence in contemporary fiction.

Books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, which I happened to read while writing my book.

In fact, one could argue, the structure of my book wouldn’t have found its tone had it not been for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, with it’s prime #’s.

And then there’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

While these books don’t harp about the Aspergian tendencies in their protagonists, it is obvious to anyone who has an inkling of what Asperger’s Syndrome is that the lead characters could be diagnosed with the disorder.

Ellie made me see for the first time an unused potential in my book.

If she – an unbiased and anonymous reader – sensed a touch of the Aspergian in the MD character (MD being the initials for Michael Davidson, which is my name), then it’s certain that other readers are getting the same impression.

It follows that people who read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and found the Aspergian protagonist engaging would be interested in Austin Nights.

And people who read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and knew the protagonist was an Aspie even though it’s never directly stated would probably discover the same symptoms in the lead character in Austin Nights and would have the same suspicions.

Who knows?

The question becomes how do I tap into Haddon’s and Foer’s readers. Or, better yet, how do I reach out to readers of Aspie Fiction and gently get my book in their hands?

@herocious

May 25, 2012 2:30 pm

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